Yudron wrote:Malcolm this actually brings up an interesting point. I tried looking at some dzogchen tantras in the Nyingma Gyudbum, and they were handwritten -- difficult to read and containing a lot of scribal mistakes. Many criticize the bible for being so rife with scribal errors compounded one upon the other that it could hardly reflect the early documents it purports to represent... and perhaps intentionally distorted in places.
The Adzom Chogar edition of the seveteen tantras is the best; it is based on the Derge edition and provides all the alternate readings. For example, there were at least three manuscript traditions of the Rangshar -- the one in the Tingskye/Tsham brag edition is has differences in certain respects from the Adzom Chogar and is based on only one manuscript tradition.
Now, I don't know why you look at the Dzogchen tantras from a religious view when you are eschewing religion
I don't "beleive" in the Dzogchen tantras, I have personal experience of what they are discussing (no this does not mean I am a realized person). So I don't look at them from a religious point of view -- they are experiential manuals.
but clearly you believe, as I do, that they are not Tibetan inventions.
There are features of the Man ngag sde tantras that can only exist in native Tibetan compositions.
My view of the Dzogchen tantras is that they are human compositions, relative, and so confined in space and time to this epoch. For example, the Rangshar was taught by the primordial master Zhonnu Pawo Tobdan. But it also mentions Shankaracaraya and Kumarila who are both from the 7th-8th century. So when it was set down or recounted, in the enumeration of views, Vimalamitra or someone else, if it is really a translation, mentioned these Hindu masters who were of recent fame. So I think that the Dzogchen tantras have multiple layers and multiple authors. And this also does not mean that they do not have an oral origin in a guy named Garab Dorje -- we simply do not know.
But faith in the historicity of Garab Dorje, or the veracity of the traditional lineage account is unecessary for the pratice Dzogchen. Even if Dzogchen were invented yesterday by Eckhart Tolle, it would still be a verifiable personal experience one can have.
For example, the Rangshar's colophon holds that Vimalamitra translated the text using copies in three languages, that of Sanskrit, Oḍḍiyānese, and rgya nag, which at the time, probably meant Central Asia(according to Hansen-Barber), but usually is understood as China by modern Tibetans. This is strange and interesting.
So, we believe...they are not just 1,000 years old, but 2,000 or more years old.
I am not sure of that. All we know for sure is that around this literature emerged in the tenth century. We have no text datable prior to the tenth century apart from the Guhyagarbha tantra -- this is because Samyas burned down. Even so, the 17 tantras were supposedly confined to a single edition discovered by Dangma Lhungyal and given to Chetsun. Chetsun gave them to Zhangton in 1128 along with the Vima Nyinthig. He also gave them to Chegom who revealed some other interesting tantras (which are in NGB) that show up in slightly different recensions Gongpa Zangthal. At that time, Terma revelations were not so codified the way they are now. The colophons of the texts in the zangs yig can for example recommend that the pratitioner himself conceal the texts for later times if he cannot find a suitable disciple.
With each edition there have been scribal errors and edits by well-intentioned lamas trying to figure out what needs correcting--probably dozens of editions. Whomever Garab Dorje was, living in whatever era he did, what we have now as Dzogchen tantras clearly are not what he received from Vajrasattva.
Correct, these texts have been subject to emendation and addition. One thing, Garab Dorje was a nirmanakāya -- his speech is Vajrasattva and his mind is Samanabhadra. The three kāyas are inseperable -- so the Samantabhadra --> Vajrasattva --> Garab Dorje lineage thing is just a literary device, and not meant to be taken literally, IMO.
Did I read somewhere that Jim Valby inputted a critical edition of the main 17 tantras?
In any event, while very interested in the current redaction of these ancient documents, I place my faith in the personal menngak from current Buddhas who have accomplished the path in the present.
All the 17 tantras have been put on line in wylie, Valby's edition. They are a not a critical edition. For some tantras, he input parallel copies, which is better than "critical editions".
My present understanding of Dzogchen is entirely due primarily to the kindness of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and Kunzang Dechen Lingpa, which is not to discount the kindness of othe teachers.